Heavier drivers could be hampered by halo in 2018


Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

With the introduction of the halo in 2018, heavier, taller Formula 1 drivers are once again set to be handicapped by the extra weight the cockpit protection system brings.

Although the FIA has raised the minimum weight allowed by 6kgs in anticipation of the extra mass, teams have found that the mountings and the extra bulk needed to pass the mandatory load tests has seen the weight rise higher than had been anticipated, and is now estimated to be in the region of 14kgs.

That means there will be no room for teams to use ballast and the weight of the driver will likely take the car over the minimum limit allowed in 2018, which will see drivers really having to pay attention to their weight as they try to keep their overall mass as low as possible.

The issue has been a problem in the past for taller drivers such as Mark Webber and Renault Sport Formula 1 Team driver Nico Hulkenberg, who were having to drop their weight to dangerous levels in order to race.

Back in 2014, Jean-Eric Vergne collapsed prior to the Australian Grand Prix, having starved himself so badly after bosses urged the Frenchman to lose more weight, leading many to question the health implications that the limit was subjecting some drivers to.

Raising the minimum weight limit has often been a cause for contention in the sport, with Formula 1 knowing the issue is there, but a number of teams not willing to vote to change it, despite the negative factors.

Hulkenberg, who is one of the tallest drivers in the paddock, says he is aware of the problem, and hopes something can be agreed to avoid it being a penalty for those that are naturally bigger framed.

“We are aware of it, there is talk about it.

“It’s a political matter and the teams need to agree to change the weight, but some teams don’t want to, so it’s a bit of a situation.

“For me as a taller and heavier driver it’s definitely going to be a bit of a penalty. The team have already told me there might be some overweight issues for me, and asked me if I could go on a diet. The answer was no!”

Haas F1 Team driver Romain Grosjean believes he would also be penalised by the extra weight, but says there are projects going on in the background that he hopes will put the issue to rest.

“My car is already very much on the limit if not overweight this year. If the Halo is really that heavy, it’s going to be a problem.

“I’ll have to lose a bone! Honestly, I’m underweight, and I would be heavier if I had the choice. There are proposals in the pipeline in the future to solve the problem.”

Sahara Force India F1 Team Technical Director, Andy Green, said the introduction of the halo has already posed a number of issues for the team, and is making it extremely tricky for them to hit their targets.

Green also believes that the halo may not survive the required load tests, and that is a major concern for teams.

“It’s a huge challenge. It’s massive. It’s a big headache at the moment, trying to design a car that hits the weight limit and weight distribution target.

“It’s a proof loading; it’s a slow application of the load. It will almost destroy the halo while it’s doing it. Is it a worry? Absolutely. It’s a worry for all the teams when they first do it. It’s a huge load. Huge.”